STAFF REPORTER FROM 2nd January, Central Government is imposing a new smoking ban. There are already partial bans in place which were introduced in two separate stages.

The Balearics, with its so-called “Anti-Drugs Law” which was approved by Parliament on 19th April, 2005, was the first region in the whole of the country which laid down legislation separating smokers from non-smokers in public places. After its approval by Parliament, the law which was popularly known as the “Anti-Smoking Law” even though it covered the use of other addictive substances was enforced on 10th July the same year spearheaded by the then regional Health Minister Aina Castillo and the regional coordinator for Drug Dependency, Bartomeu Jaume.

The law specified that “it is prohibited to smoke in public places except in areas where it is authorised to do so” but it was left to the proprietor of bars cafés and restaurants as to what size they chose for the permitted smoking area on their premises.

On 1st January, 2006, legislation was introduced by Central Government which governed smoking practices in public at a national level. This was the second time that people in the Balearic Islands had to adapt to new bylaws. The national law rode roughshod over a number of aspects of smoking restrictions which were already in force at a regional level.

The national law stipulated that smokers and non-smokers should be physically separated from one another in public places which had more than 100 square metres of floor space, with specific emphasis on bars, cafeterias and restaurants.

Bars which were smaller than 100 square metres were forced to make a blanket declaration about whether they were a smoking or a non-smoking environment, and clearly if they chose the latter, smokers and children under 16 years-old were banned from the environment.

Finally, the total smoking ban to come into force on 2nd January will prohibit the practice in all closed public places meaning discothèques as well as bars, cafés and restaurants. The law will allow smoking in hotels although 70 percent of the rooms will need to be smoke-free, in prisons, psychiatric centres and in “smokers' clubs.”